Tasmania in January 2011: Record wet in the north

Record-breaking rain fell in northern Tasmania on 12-14 January, giving Falmouth Tasmania's wettest January day on record. This rain also ensured the month was much wetter than usual in the north, but rainfall was near average in the south. Nights were warm overall, but days were mostly cooler than usual with temperatures climbing over 30 °C on only a few days.

  • Record 282 mm in 24 hours at Falmouth
  • Wettest January on record in the northwest
  • High humidity leading to warm nights and foggy mornings

Record-breaking heavy rain and flooding

A trough of low pressure brought very moist air across Tasmania and produced exceptionally heavy rainfall in the north between the 12th and 14th. A new state record January daily rainfall of 282 mm was set at Falmouth on the northern East Coast. Scamander, with 278 mm, also broke the old state record of 247 mm set at The Springs on Mount Wellington in 1916.  Short duration heavy rainfall is a feature of Tasmania's northeast, when humid air from off the Tasman Sea is forced up and over the highlands. This is most common in autumn (the highest daily rainfall ever recorded in Tasmania was 352 mm at Cullenswood near St Marys in March 1974), but can happen at almost any time of year.

In the northwest, Yolla exceeded its previous January daily rainfall record on the 13th and again on the 14th. Burnie and Wynyard Airport also had their wettest January days on the 13th, both by a considerable margin.

A number of other sites had their wettest January day on record, and some sites had their highest January total rainfall, with a few receiving more than five times the long-term monthly January average over the four-day spell.

The heavy rain brought flash flooding which caused significant damage in northern and northeastern Tasmania. Major flooding occurred in the Mersey and Meander Rivers, with moderate flooding in the Forth, South Esk and lower reaches of the Macquarie River, and minor flooding in the North Esk River. There were evacuations in the north and a number of people rescued from stranded vehicles. Gusty northeasterly winds also caused some damage in the northwest and north of the state.

A special climate statement titled Exceptional January rainfall in northern Tasmania was prepared to detail this event.

Very wet overall in the north

It was the wettest January on record for many sites in the northwest and on the northern East Coast, including Ulverstone, Burnie, King Island Airport and Scamander. Rainfall was near average in the south, and slightly below average at a few sites in the west. Falmouth was the wettest site, with a total of 383 mm, while the driest area was just 40 km to the southwest with 30.2 mm recorded at Lewis Hill.

Rainfall during January 2011 was very different to January 2010, which was record dry in the north. Latrobe, for example, received a record high 174 mm this month, but had its driest January on record last year with just 2.6 mm.

Warm, humid nights

Nights in January were mostly warmer than usual, with average minimum temperatures for the month about a degree warmer than usual. A handful of sites had their highest January mean daily minimum temperature on record or for many years. The 7th to 15th was especially warm with cloud, rain and moist easterly winds keeping overnight temperatures well above normal. Bicheno had 9 nights in a row over 15 °C, something that has only happened once before, and Hobart had 5 consecutive nights over 15 °C. The warmest night was the 14th, when Flinders Island had didn't fall below 20.8 °C and Strathgordon (18.4 °C) had its warmest January night on record. Launceston, with 20.2 °C, was just short of the record 20.9 °C set in 2009.

Cool nights were rare. Liawenee fell to -1.1 °C on the 3rd, but this was the only sub-zero temperature recorded in Tasmania during the month. The 2nd, 22nd and 28th were also cooler then usual.

Mostly cool days, and few hot ones

There were many cool days during January, but no significant cold changes; for many sites the coldest day was around 18 °C. There were also few hot days, with temperatures reaching into the 30s only on the 7th, 8th, 15th, 30th and 31th. Campania had the hottest day, reaching 34.7 °C on the 8th. This was well below the 40.7 °C recorded at Ouse in 2010 and the 42.2 °C at Scamander in 2009.

For the whole month, maximum temperatures were mostly a degree or two cooler than January 2010, but still warmer than the long-term average at coastal sites. Inland areas were mostly cooler than usual, especially in the Midlands and Derwent Valley. Launceston had the warmest days on average, with 24.6 °C, and Mount Wellington had the coolest days on average, with 13.3 °C.

Hobart: very different to 2010

As with much of the state, January 2011 in Hobart was very different to last year, with fewer warm days, more rain, less sunshine and greater humidity.

Both daytime and overnight temperatures were warmer than usual for January, but overall it was about a degree cooler than last year. There were 2 days over 30 °C and 5 days over 25 °C (both about average for January), but last year there were twice as many. The hottest temperature was 33.6 °C on the 8th, whereas last year the temperature exceeded 35 °C on two days.

Hobart received 59.8 mm for the month, more than three times the total from last January and slightly above the long-term average. The wettest day was 15.4 mm on the 13th. Each day had an average of 7 hours of sun, around 2 hours less than last year. It was also more humid than last January, especially in the afternoon. The dew point in Hobart exceeded 20 °C on the afternoon of the 15th. This is a value more typical of January in Brisbane; the long-term average January 3 pm dew point for Hobart is 9 °C.

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Extremes in January 2011
Hottest day 34.7 °C at Campania (Kincora) on the 8th
Warmest days on average 24.6 °C at Launceston (Ti Tree Bend)
Coolest days on average 13.3 °C at Mount Wellington
Coldest day 6.3 °C at Mount Read on the 17th
Coldest night -1.1 °C at Liawenee on the 3rd
Coolest nights on average 5.1 °C at Mount Wellington
Warmest nights on average 15.3 °C at Hogan Island
Warmest night 20.8 °C at Flinders Island Airport on the 14th
Warmest on average overall 19.1 °C at Launceston (Ti Tree Bend)
Coolest on average overall 9.2 °C at Mount Wellington
Wettest overall 383.2 mm at Falmouth (Glencoe)
Driest overall 31.2 mm at Lewis Hill (St Pauls River)
Wettest day 282.0 mm at Falmouth (Glencoe) on the 13th
Highest wind gust 150 km/h at Mount Wellington on the 15th


Maps

Observed Anomaly Decile rank
Total
rainfall
Map of Rainfall totals Map of Percentage of normal rainfall Map of Rainfall deciles
Mean
daily
maximum
temperatures
Map of Mean maximum temperature Map of Anomaly in mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature
Mean
daily
minimum
temperatures
Map of Mean minimum temperature Map of Anomaly in mean minimum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature

Click on a map to show it full size in a pop-up window



Record highest January daily rainfall

Highest daily rainfall
in January 2011 (mm)
Previous wettest
for January
Years of
record
Yolla (Sea View) 131.0 on the 14th 70.1 on the 20th in 1946 105
Burnie (Round Hill) 87.2 on the 13th 51.8 on the 17th in 1979 65
Falmouth (Glencoe) 282.0 on the 13th 150.0 on the 29th in 1995 43
Wynyard Airport 106.8 on the 13th 66.0 on the 25th in 1996 38
Surprise Bay 26.2 on the 11th 22.9 on the 6th in 1934 29
Scamander 278.0 on the 13th 116.4 on the 29th in 2004 28
Three Hummock Island 33.4 on the 11th 24.1 on the 1st in 1956 21


Record highest total January rainfall

Total rainfall
for January 2011 (mm)
Previous wettest
for January
Years of
record
Average for
January
Ulverstone (Knights Road) 144.0 114.6 in 1904 112 42.8
Latrobe (Coal Road) 173.8 162.4 in 2004 111 43.8
Yambacoona 146.8 124.0 in 1997 109 36.5
Yolla (Sea View) 326.0 211.6 in 1996 106 63.4
Mole Creek 240.0 208.6 in 1996 96 53.2
Burnie (Round Hill) 177.0 126.6 in 1996 66 44.6
Forthside Research Station 188.2 155.4 in 1996 46 53.0
Barrington Post Office 241.0 199.2 in 2004 45 62.1
Falmouth (Glencoe) 383.2 271.8 in 1995 43 66.6
Marrawah 123.0 97.0 in 1997 41 49.1
Wynyard Airport 193.6 166.2 in 1996 38 43.8
King Island Airport 130.8 99.2 in 1977 37 39.0
Scamander 376.5 213.4 in 2004 28 58.1
Campbell Town (Elizabeth R) 75.2 71.0 in 2000 25 41.1

Highest total January rainfall for at least 20 years

Total rainfall
for January 2011 (mm)
Most recent January
at least this wet
Years since
wetter
Average for
January
Pioneer (Main Road) 216.6 235.5 in 1916 93 51.5
City of Melbourne Bay 108.6 123.7 in 1937 74 41.9
Irishtown 134.2 183.2 in 1937 69 50.6



Record highest January daily minimum temperature

Highest daily minimum
temperature
in January 2011 (°C)
Previous warmest
for January
Years of
record
Average for
January
Strathgordon Village 18.4 on the 14th 18.3 on the 15th in 1981 30 9.5



Record highest January mean daily minimum temperature

Mean daily minimum
temperature
for January 2011 (°C)
Previous warmest
for January
Years of
record
Average for
January
Scamander 13.8 = 13.8 in 2008 26 12.6
Geeveston (Cemetery Road) 11.4 11.1 in 2005 24 9.8
Lake Leake (Elizabeth River) 9.5 9.4 in 1999 21 8.2

Highest January mean daily minimum temperature for at least 20 years

Mean daily minimum
temperature
for January 2011 (°C)
Most recent January
at least this warm
Years since
warmer
Average for
January
Butlers Gorge 7.9 8.5 in 1971 22 6.3
Butlers Gorge was not operating as an observing site between October 1993 and May 2008, so it is possible that higher mean daily minimum temperatures have occurred but not been reported.




Summary statistics for January 2011

Maximum temperatures
for January
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
for January
(°C)
Rainfall
for January
(millimetres)
Mean for
January
2011
Diff
from
average
Highest for
January
2011
Mean for
January
2011
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
January
2011
Total for
January
2011
Average
for
January
Rank of
January
2011
Fraction of
January
average
Northern (district 91)
Bridport (Sea View Villas) 21.5 -0.3 25.5 7th 13.7 +0.7 7.8 2nd 121.4 57.4 high 211%
Burnie (Round Hill) 21.6 +0.6 30.6 30th 14.1 +1.5 8.9 2nd 177.0 44.6 highest 397%
Cape Grim 18.8   23.6 30th 13.6   8.4 4th 104.2


Cape Grim BAPS (Comparison) 19.0 +0.2 23.8 8th 13.5 +0.5 8.8 4th 98.2 36.6 v high 268%
Cressy Research Station 23.9 -1.2 30.4 8th 11.2 +1.2 2.5 2nd 78.6 32.8 v high 240%
Devonport Airport 21.3 +0.1 28.3 30th 13.3 +1.1 5.7 3rd 107.4 42.8 v high 251%
Launceston (Ti Tree Bend) 24.6 +0.4 30.3 7th 13.6 +1.4 7.0 2nd 52.0 46.5 high 112%
Launceston Airport 24.0   30.5 8th 11.8   4.3 2nd 55.6


Low Head 20.5 +0.3 23.8 30th 14.9 +0.7 11.1 3rd 114.0 51.9 high 220%
Luncheon Hill (Forestry) 20.1 -0.9 27.3 7th 10.9 +0.5 5.8 3rd 120.4 80.7 high 149%
Marrawah 19.9 -0.2 24.6 7th 12.7 +0.8 8.1 4th 123.0 49.1 highest 251%
Scottsdale (West Minstone Road) 22.2 -0.6 28.0 7th 12.0 +1.3 5.1 2nd 118.2 58.3 v high 203%
Sheffield School Farm 21.3 -0.6 28.9 30th 11.1 +0.5 6.0 3rd



Smithton Aerodrome 21.0 -0.5 26.7 30th 11.9 +0.8 4.1 3rd 115.8 42.3 high 274%
Wynyard Airport 21.8 +0.5 30.8 30th 12.2 +1.3 5.9 3rd 193.6 43.8 highest 442%
East Coast (district 92)
Bicheno (Council Depot) 21.5 +0.2 30.7 15th 13.9 +1.1 9.9 1st 134.6 53.4 v high 252%
Eddystone Point 22.0 +1.1 27.4 30th 14.3 +0.7 8.9 2nd 124.0 45.7 v high 271%
Fingal (Legge Street) 23.3 -0.1 31.3 8th 11.1 +0.9 4.0 2nd 49.2 44.0 average 112%
Friendly Beaches 23.0 +0.1 31.3 15th 13.6 +0.5 9.6 22nd 101.6 61.6 high 165%
Lake Leake (Elizabeth River) 19.1 -0.2 28.4 8th 9.5 +1.3 4.1 2nd 64.6 54.9 average 118%
Maria Island (Point Lesueur) 20.9   29.4 15th 13.8   10.8 3rd 58.8


Orford (Aubin Court) 21.4 -0.6 29.6 15th 12.7 +0.9 8.5 2nd 66.2 48.9 high 135%
Scamander 22.1 +0.1 32.2 30th 13.8 +1.2 9.8 2nd 376.5 58.1 highest 648%
St Helens Aerodrome 22.6 0.0 30.5 30th 13.9 +0.8 8.4 2nd 162.8 66.5 high 245%
Swan Island 20.4   25.5 8th 15.1   10.5 18th 85.0


Swansea Post Office 22.4 +0.1 31.5 15th 12.9 +1.2 6.0 2nd 60.6 49.4 average 123%
Midlands (district 93)
Ross (The Boulevards) 23.8 -0.6 30.7 30th 11.7 +1.2 3.8 2nd 44.8 47.7 average 94%
Southeast (district 94)
Campania (Kincora) 23.8 -0.3 34.7 8th 11.7 +0.5 3.4 3rd 43.2 37.4 average 116%
Cape Bruny (Cape Bruny) 19.7 +0.1 31.2 7th 12.5 +0.4 9.8 29th 46.6 42.8 average 109%
Cape Bruny Lighthouse 18.9 +0.6 29.8 7th 12.5 +1.1 9.8 18th 51.6 62.2 average 83%
Dover 21.0 +0.4 31.7 8th 11.0 +0.9 4.9 22nd 56.0 52.8 average 106%
Geeveston (Cemetery Road) 21.4 -0.3 32.0 7th 11.4 +1.6 4.4 22nd 51.4 56.6 average 91%
Grove (Research Station) 21.9   32.2 7th 10.3   3.0 22nd 59.2


Hobart (Ellerslie Road) 22.5 +0.9 33.6 8th 13.4 +1.5 9.0 22nd 59.8 47.5 high 126%
Hobart Airport 22.7 +0.2 34.4 8th 13.2 +1.2 7.2 23rd 39.8 40.3 average 99%
Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse 16.9 -0.1 24.8 7th 12.0 +1.3 8.7 4th 79.2 79.3 average 100%
Melton Mowbray (North Stockman) 22.6 -1.4 33.8 8th 11.0 +0.7 4.8 3rd 54.0 31.2 high 173%
Mount Wellington 13.3 0.0 23.1 8th 5.1 +0.4 0.3 3rd 213.6 86.5 v high 247%
Tasman Island 17.5   25.9 7th 11.9   9.3 4th 104.8 75.6 average 139%
Tunnack Fire Station 20.3 -1.4 28.6 8th 9.2 +0.4 1.6 3rd 54.6 44.7 average 122%
Derwent Valley (district 95)
Bushy Park (Bushy Park Estates) 23.9 0.0 32.5 7th 11.0 +1.0 4.7 22nd 62.2 41.0 high 152%
Maydena Post Office 20.4 -1.8 29.8 7th 9.6 +0.7 4.0 29th 63.6 61.5 average 103%
Ouse Fire Station 23.9 -1.6 32.1 7th 11.0 +1.0 3.7 22nd 48.0 26.6 high 180%
Tarraleah Village 19.8 +0.3 27.2 8th     3.8 29th 65.6 69.7 average 94%
Central Plateau (district 96)
Butlers Gorge 18.5 -0.3 27.7 7th 7.9 +1.6 1.7 3rd 83.6 97.0 average 86%
Lake St Clair National Park 19.0 -0.3 26.6 8th 7.4 +1.1 0.9 3rd 69.2 102.1 average 68%
Liawenee 18.0 -0.7 24.5 8th 6.2 +1.1 -1.1 3rd 87.4


West Coast (district 97)
Hartz Mountain (Keoghs Pimple) 16.0 -1.9 25.9 7th 7.2 +0.1 3.2 3rd 79.8 65.2 average 122%
Mount Read 13.5 -0.8 20.9 6th 6.1 +0.4 1.1 3rd 200.6 196.4 average 102%
Scotts Peak Dam 20.6 +0.1 31.2 7th 9.8 +0.6 5.1 22nd 83.4 102.3 average 82%
Strahan Aerodrome 20.8 +0.2 29.8 13th 11.9 +1.3 6.0 22nd 93.6 81.4 average 115%
Strathgordon Village 19.0 -0.2 27.4 7th 10.1 +0.6 5.5 22nd 118.2 146.0 average 81%
Warra 18.2   28.1 7th 8.8   2.3 22nd 101.0


King Island (district 98)
King Island Airport 20.3 -0.4 31.6 7th 12.7 +0.4 5.9 4th 130.8 39.0 highest 335%
Flinders Island (district 99)
Flinders Island Airport 22.5 +0.5 32.0 31st 14.7 +1.4 7.4 6th 74.6 45.6 high 164%
Hogan Island 21.5   31.1 30th 15.3   12.1 3rd 50.4


Antarctica and Macquarie Island (district 300)
Macquarie Island 9.0 +0.2 11.2 26th 5.5 +0.2 2.3 16th 67.4 84.4 low 80%

Notes

A Monthly Climate Summary is prepared to list the main features of the weather in Tasmania using the most timely and accurate information available on the date of publication; it will generally not be updated. Later information, including data that has had greater opportunity for quality control, will be presented in the Monthly Weather Review, usually published in the fourth week of the month.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 10 am on Tuesday 1 February 2011. Some checks have been made on the data, but it is possible that results will change as new information becomes available.

Averages are long-term means based on observations from all available years of record, which vary widely from site to site. They are not shown for sites with less than 10 years of record, as they cannot then be calculated reliably.
The median is sometimes more representative than the mean of long-term average rain.

The Rank indicates how rainfall this time compares with the climate record for the site, based on the decile ranking (very low rainfall is in decile 1, low in decile 2 or 3, average in decile 4 to 7, high in decile 8 or 9 and very high is in decile 10).
The Fraction of average shows how much rain has fallen this time as a percentage of the long-term mean.

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057
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